Cambridge University scientists are planning a clinical trial to test whether Propranolol, a drug used in the treatment of heart and circulatory conditions may block cravings for alcohol in those with an addiction. The drug is a beta-blocker and thus known to alleviate anxiety. A study on rats has been completed and evidenced that Propranolol could wipe a stimulus from the rats’ brain when it was craving a drink.
How does it work?
It is anticipated that the prescription drug could help alcoholics forget their cravings and consequently stop drinking in the long term. Scientists believe that subconscious cravings can be eradicated by preventing thoughts of past usage and experiences that ultimately lead to drinking. It is considered that the drug can eradicate triggers of emotional memories linked to addictive behaviours.
How long until it’s available?
The clinical trial is funded by the Medical Research Council for a 5 year study into the drug and its effects. If successful this seemingly simple treatment could offer much hope for those whose lives are seriously harmed by their alcoholism.
Dr Amy Milton, one of the leading scientists in the study, said: “Traditionally, memory was viewed as similar to a book, which can be shelved but never changed once printed. We now think that memory is more like a word processing document – you can save it and then recall it, at which point you can adapt or even delete its contents.”